Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Executives' Manners Need More Polish

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Executives' Manners Need More Polish

Article excerpt

MORE women are bringing home the bacon, and that's why there's no one there to teach their children how to eat it properly.

"Corporations are finding that while their best and brightest young recruits are extremely accomplished in their fields, they lack sufficient instruction and practice in etiquette, particularly business etiquette, to handle meetings with clients and potential clients over a meal," holds Kenneth Marvel, chairman of Fitz and Floyd, a Dallas manufacturer of fine china.

As a result, such companies as Westinghouse Corporation, Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation, Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., and many others have sponsored lectures and seminars on good manners for key employees.

"There is an awareness for the first time that there is a real need," says Letitia Baldrige, an expert on etiquette. Her book, Letitia Baldrige's Guide to Executive Manners, has sold more than 200,000 copies since it was first printed in 1985. Her latest book, Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the New Manners for the '90s, is also selling well. Other books on manners sell steadily, including those of Judith Martin and Elizabeth Post, granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post.

Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers, written by Walter Hoving in 1961, remains a "bestseller" at the jeweler's stores.

"Manners are obviously something people are returning to, realizing the importance of," says Patricia Russo, director of publicity at Tiffany & Co. The store's etiquette courses for children, involving a meal in a hotel dining room, are always sold out. "We are besieged by adults for courses."

Many younger executives, lawyers, accountants, doctors, and other professionals are woefully ignorant of the basics of proper wardrobes, conduct at the dinner table, and other aspects of good manners, Mr. Marvel finds. He sees this as a result of the social and cultural upheavals of the late 1960s and early 1970s when the issue was "saving the world," and style, taste, etiquette, and the establishment were considered irrelevant if not contemptible. Then came some years when youths concentrated on getting a practical education. …

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